DESPITE heavy rainfalls in May and June, 2019 is expected to be another dry year for the Wimmera.
This year's rainfall total for Horsham as of the end of October stands at 247.4mm.
According to Bureau of Meteorology data, this is significantly lower than Horsham's annual rainfall average (between 1959 to 2018) of 420.8mm.
Unless another 173.4mm falls in the next two months, 2019 could join 2014 (266mm), 2015 (294.8mm) and 2018 (316.9mm) as some of the lowest years on record.
There have been drier years in the past, including 1967 (207.4mm), 1982 (186.5mm), 1994 (266.6mm) and 2006 (236.5mm). However, these years were anomalies among years of average to significant rainfalls.
This year started off dry with only 15.6mm falling on Horsham between January and April. There were significant rain events in May (62mm) and June (62.4mm).
October only received 14.2mm despite a few days of high rainfall. Horsham's average rainfall total for October is 40.7mm.
Nhill (Woorak) has received 241.4mm so far in 2019 compared to the town's yearly average of 401.9mm.
Warracknabeal has received 271.3mm compared to a yearly average of 391.8mm, while Edenhope has received 276.6mm against an annual average of 576.5mm.
Unsurprisingly it has been more wet down the Western Highway with Ararat receiving 479.6mm compared to an annual average of 584.1mm, while 361.8mm has fallen on Stawell compared to a 473mm average.
Bureau of Meteorology climatologist Lynette Bettio said the low rainfall totals in the region were reflected across most of the southern Australia.
"In the last 20 years between April and October much of the rainfall across the state has been in the lowest 10 per cent since records started. It's really reflective of that downward shift in rainfall across those regions between those months," she said.
"This is happening during a really important time agriculture communities such as the Wimmera where people are looking to fill dams and fill water shortages, so it is of concern. There has been a large response regarding this in terms of research efforts."
She said large rainfall events, such as 2016 when 573.2mm fell on Horsham, were becoming less common.
"For the last 20 years, not every year has been really dry and some were just below average. There's only be a few years, including 2016, where it's been a really wet year," she said.
"Since then we've had two really dry years and many parts of eastern Australia is looking equally as dry. We still get some of those wetter years, but there has been more drier than average years."
She said 2019 started off drier than normal for the Wimmera.
"What we saw in Horsham at the start of this year was similar to what we saw across many parts of the state with a dry start to the year. Looking at January to April, they were all very low totals and lower than what the average for those months," she said.
"For Horsham and some parts of southern Victoria we saw some wetter months in the middle of the year. Since then it's become somewhat drier, especially October with only 14.2mm against a mean of 30.9mm.
"Looking towards the end of the year, except of some southern parts of Victoria, there are increased chances of below median rainfall."
State of the climate concerns
THE Bureau's 2018 State of the Climate report said Australia's weather and climate were changing in response to a warming global climate.
"The drying in recent decades across southern Australia is the most sustained large-scale change in rainfall since national records began in 1900. The drying trend has been most evident in the southwestern and southeastern corners of the country," the report said.
"For the southeast of the country, April to October rainfall for the period 1999 to 2018 has decreased by around 11 per cent when compared to the 1900 to 1998 period. This period encompasses the Millennium Drought, which saw low annual rainfall totals across the region from 1997 to 2010.
"This decrease, at an agriculturally and hydrologically important time of the year, is linked with a trend towards higher mean sea level pressure in the region and a shift in large-scale weather patterns-more highs and fewer lows.
"This increase in mean sea level pressure across southern latitudes is a known response to global warming. There has been a reduction in the number of cold fronts impacting the southwest, and a decrease in the incidence and intensity of weather systems known as cut-off lows in the southeast regions of Australia.
"Cut-off lows bring the majority of rainfall and the most intense rainfalls in some regions of eastern Victoria and Tasmania."
Read the full State of the Climate report below
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